When I grow up, I want to be a Vorlon

Sharon Ashwood
July 21, 2010  •  No Comments

A lot of good TV shows have come and gone, but sometimes I wonder if I miss the show itself or the circumstances around watching it. I used to watch a TV show about the Vikings Sunday afternoons when I was in university. It was a great show on history and archaeology, but I think the real pleasure came out of the fact that by the time it came on, my weekend homework was usually finished. It was the signal to start my night off. I can say similar things about a lot of the British cop shows that were around in the 1980s, because I used to watch them with my Dad. I miss the shows, but I what I really miss is spending time with him.

All that being said, there are some shows I miss because of their pure genius. My two all-time favourites are Babylon 5 and Buffy/Angel. Both were clever and beautifully crafted. Bab 5 was more complex and sometimes struggled with all that creative brilliance (+/ the network execs who simply didn’t get it) but will remain on my keeper shelf always. There is something of a Shakespearean grandeur there. Plus, the Vorlons were just so cool.

I have to point to it as a real influence on how I think about story construction. The plot layering is without peer. If you watch it from the beginning, there isn’t a throw away scene in the entire series. (Watch out for Mr. Morden). Everything counts, even if it doesn’t become apparent until the next season–or even several seasons later.

Both B5 and Buffy ran their course. Angel ended in a rather spectacular, dystopian fashion I love or hate depending on my mood, but at least it ended. What bugs me far more are all the shows that died on vine before they had a chance to reach their full potential. Firefly (see Jessa’s post) is a great example—I will never understand why that one didn’t flourish.

Others committed the sin of stumbling at the starting gate, but given time could have grown into their promise. Moonlight was just starting to hit its groove after a somewhat wan beginning (Vampire Mick needed assertiveness training). Blood Ties started out well but the writing faltered, probably once they figured out they were destined for cancellation. Defying Gravity was definitely interesting, but I think the threads of the story needed to be pulled together sooner. I loved the Dollhouse, but it was too abstract for a lot of people. It took some time to understand what was going on.

Which leads me to think that, while it’s tough enough to get a book series off the ground, there is zero tolerance for any missteps while launching a new TV show. Viewers—or maybe it’s advertisers?—don’t wait around for slow but steady growth. It’s either an instant, or it’s gone.

It makes me cautious about becoming attached to a new series too soon. Does the high rate of cancellation make anyone else reluctant to try new shows?


Driver blames crash on vampire??

Sharon Ashwood
July 18, 2010  •  No Comments

Looky here.

From our local paper, an article by Peter Kenter of Postmedia News.

“A Colorado woman has blamed a recent car crash on an unwanted appearance by a member of the living dead.

“The driver told police she was travelling down a dirt road near the small town of Fruita when she was startled by a vampire caught in her headlights.

“The driver took quick evasive action, throwing the 2002 Chevy Blazer into reverse and crashing into a canal, with the vehicle rolling over on to its passenger side.

“Traditional vampires are incapable of crossing running water, though it isn’t clear whether the driver deliberately intended to test this theory….”

And it goes on. The real story question, however, is why did the vampire cross the road?


Literacy Signing

Sharon Ashwood
July 17, 2010  •  No Comments

This is undoubtedly most relevant to Floridians and those attending the RWA National Conference, but here is the scoop on the big signing event–and I’ll be there! From the RWA web site:

“The 2010 “Readers for Life” Literacy Autographing takes place on Wednesday, July 28, from 5:30-7:30 p.m. at the Walt Disney World® Dolphin Resort, Pacific Exhibit Hall, in Orlando, Florida. This event is open to the public; there is no admittance charge.”

The list of authors who will be there (and it’s huge) is here.


On the road

Sharon Ashwood
July 14, 2010  •  No Comments

My family was never big on vacations. They were busy and didn’t have a lot of spare money, so travel fell to the bottom of the priority pile and, when it did happen, was often accomplished by bus. Sometimes at seventy-two hour stretches. I get bus sick. I developed an early aversion to travel.

When I was one my own (and possessed a car) prospects improved. True, I took the “dream” vacation with the boyfriend of the day (vile mistake, but good diagnostic tool for future un/happiness), but that’s not the main reason I find travel stressful. Wherever I went for many years, there was usually a disaster of some sort. Bombing. Snipers. Flood. Riots. I was just about to start blackmailing tourist spots so they’d pay me to stay home, but that era appears to have ended with my trek to San Francisco a few years ago. It was AOK, which must have signalled the lifting of the curse. Though there was that flood in Nashville right after I reserved my hotel for the RWA National conference this summer. That’s just a coincidence, right?

Yes, it’s possible that I do read too much paranormal fiction. On the other hand, perhaps I will never take a “normal” vacation, because my perception is different.

Travel is too important to an author for me to hide on my safe little island. My two trips to England (one plagued by the IRA, the other by poll tax riots, mad cow disease, and a storm that washed out the bridge to Wales) have provided a wealth of historical imagery. All of those ghastly bus rides as a kid showed me the prairies in a way an airplane just can’t (there is a giant bronze Viking AND a giant corn cob somewhere in Minnesota). And there’s nothing like waking up to your first up-close view of the northern Rocky Mountains at sunrise. The imagery, down to every last bus stop and greasy spoon, is stored in my mental treasure room. I found seeds of stories in all of those places. (And sitting on my grandma’s porch watching the creek waters creep across the lawn toward me, half-distracted by the itch-worthy fact that I’d stupidly moved straw bales all afternoon wearing shorts and a midriff).

Authors aren’t all that different from those wildly irritating tourists who snap pictures and videos every three steps. You know the ones I mean—those people who seem to experience more with the camera lens than with their eyeballs. Storytellers are also recording every last detail for future use, even if we’re not conscious of it at the time.

What’s one mental holiday snapshot you’ve always kept with you?


For those who contemplate booksignings

Sharon Ashwood
July 10, 2010  •  No Comments

Parnell Hall on booksignings

One of my critique buddies sent this (thanks, Jane!) I got a giggle fit when I watched this.


Free into the world

Sharon Ashwood
July 6, 2010  •  2 Comments

Unchained is out!

unchained

So the book is out from under my control, free to roam the universe. But am I unchained from Unchained? One of the hardest things about book releases is the knowledge that you can’t take anything back. You’ve done it. You’ve said that. No more access to the delete key.

I had someone ask recently if there was anything I’d do differently. At this point, it’s useless to look back over my shoulder, and even if I could I wouldn’t want to. Yes, every author would like a whole lot more pages to unfurl their fabulous ideas, and more time to hone the manuscript would always be welcome–but there comes a time when you have to declare your work perfect. It’s as much a living organism as a child, and it is what it is, unique and special.

And honestly, I’m pretty darned pleased with how Unchained turned out. It gets the Angst Award among the Dark Forgotten novels to date. There’s no rest for these two characters.

So, go forth, little book and be free. It’s not a separation, just the natural evolution of becoming a grown-up book.

I’m sure I’ll be hearing from Ashe and Reynard when they need someone to do their laundry.


It’s all about the snacks

Sharon Ashwood
July 5, 2010  •  No Comments

One question that I am frequently asked is what favourite junk food I consume while writing. Okay, that’s harder to answer than one might think. An author has to be careful about how she presents herself. Anything that readers might find odd or distancing should be carefully avoided.

This applies in the general as well as the culinary sense. For instance, one should never admit to black magic blood rituals even for research purposes. Similarly, training poisonous spiders to do circus tricks might be seen as off-putting. While junk food is a more innocuous subject–barely on the scale of, say, raising zombies–people have strong loyalties to their fast food. One does not show the burger disrespect.

The truth of the matter is that I don’t eat while I’m working. For one thing, I’m too deep in concentration. For another, what I’m writing is often pretty out there: demon slime, severed limbs, and werewolves with the munchies. Yum yum.

Okay, so maybe that’s not what the well-meaning questioner wanted to hear, but what can I say? I could lie and claim that I have a bag-a-day cheese curl habit (yeah, man, I’m strung out on the orange dust!) but I prefer my junk food, when I let myself have it, without thoughts of mangled body parts.

Then there’s that whole nutrition angle. My books are about slayers and sword-swinging warriors. There’s something about having all that frequently-naked rippling muscle frolicking through one’s imagination. It makes one think fondly of vitamins and sit-ups. And carrot sticks. Graphically, and not just for the crispy crunch.

So how do I answer the junk food question? Honestly, I like slow food. Organic, locally grown, made from scratch using traditional methods. Cuisine is an art. Sure, that makes me sound a bit like one of those snobby, opera-loving, cat petting movie villains, but whatever. At least I’m telling the truth. Plus, I like cats and classical music. And I hate cola. So sue me.

Admitting that is far easier than trying to explain the demon slime and carrot sticks. And it’s never right to lie to one’s readers, even about the small things. I respect them too much.

For those who want to know all about the real Sharon Ashwood: it’s simplest to just read my books, because that’s where I live.

Unchained: the Dark Forgotten. Out July 6. Guaranteed action-adventure, monsters galore, good jokes and hot sex. After that, who cares what I eat?


Windows help

Sharon Ashwood
July 1, 2010  •  No Comments

windowshelpbutton1 Finally, a help message that I can understand.


Products I want to buy – mini office voodoo kit

Sharon Ashwood
  •  No Comments

I was wandering around the web and found this:

Description
Put the power of voodoo to work in the office–so you won’t have to! With a mini corporate voodoo doll and 32 page executive spellbook, you’re practically guaranteed to turn nasty colleagues into friendly allies. And if you’re looking for a raise or hoping for a promotion, you can hardly go wrong with this hilarious kit.


Ads on our license plates: Another method of creating traffic accidents

Sharon Ashwood
June 23, 2010  •  No Comments

Now that many jurisdictions have banned the use of cell phones while driving, here comes yet another distraction for drivers. In an effort to raise revenue, California lawmakers are now considering Digital Electronic License Plate (DELP) technology that would allow rear license plates on vehicles to display l.e.d. advertising when the car is stopped.

The technology could also be used to show information such as Amber alerts and emergency traffic updates. But, for those drivers who want to use the space for their own messages, the DMV could charge for the privilege, just as they do for vanity plates.

The added economic bonus from the development and engineering of digital electronic license plate technology would be new jobs in tech and sales/marketing. In California, the bill promoting a study and trials of the program is being pushed by Smart Plate, a Bay-area company that is currently developing a digital license plate. A feasibility study should be completed by January 1, 2013, with research costs of about US$200,000 to be met by private vendors.


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